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4th annual Philomathia Symposium - Registration now open!

last modified Oct 17, 2017 12:10 PM

Where does Democracy Reside?


Thursday 9 November 2017

McGrath Centre, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

Panels 11:00-17:15; Keynote 17:30


Please register via:


The Philomathia Social Sciences Research Programme is committed to bringing together sciences and the social sciences in order to inform policy debate.  This year’s Symposium follows the successful event in 2015 when we asked ‘Body politics: the dilemmas of regulating new technologies’ This year we ask ‘Where does democracy reside?’.       

In November 2016, Donald Trump was elected on a platform of putting America first, a threat to the forms of global multilateralism that was created by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman after the Second World War.   Their aim was to provide checks to the economic nationalism and ‘beggar my neighbour’ policies that blighted the 1930s, by striking a balance between domestic and international concerns.  It was a form of ‘shallow multilateralism’ that combined international agreements with a large element of national autonomy.  By the early twentieth century, it seemed to many that this balance had been lost, with a pursuit of hyper-globalisation at the expense of local interests, with growing inequality within leading advanced economies and a sense of exclusion that led to Brexit and the election of Trump.   In September 2016, Larry Summers argued for a new balance that avoided the perils of ‘reflex internationalism’ and a return to economic nationalism: ‘responsible nationalism – an approach where it is understood that countries are expected to pursue their citizens’ economic welfare as a primary objective but where their ability to harm the interests of citizens elsewhere is circumscribed.  International agreements would be judged not by how much is harmonised or by how many barriers are torn down but whether citizens are empowered’.  This symposium rises to the challenge of how to strike a balance between global and local issues. 

We will have three panels under the following headings followed by a policy roundtable and keynote lecture:

Democracy and communications technology: which controls which?:  Contributors include Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Charles Arthur, Dr Tanya Filer and Dr Ali Sonay.

Can democracy meet the challenge of climate change?: Contributors include Dame Fiona Reynolds, Professor John Barry, Dr Joanna Depledge and Professor Liz Fisher.

Can statebuilding ever be ‘post-conflict’?  Contributors include Dr Alex Jeffrey, Professor Richard Caplan, Dr Alice Wilson and Dr Gyda Sindre

Keynote speaker: Professor Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.

Each chaired session will consist of three 10-15 minute talks followed by a panel discussion which will then be opened up to the floor.


*Booking is free, but essential.

The Symposium is free and open to all, but registration is essential. Please register via: no later than Friday, 3 November 2017. Please do register even if you are only able to attend part of the day.



Programme Logo

History of Wealth Project

This project, co-funded by the Philomathia Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust, investigates the broader significance of wealth an inheritance in 19th and early-20th century Britain.

This programme was launched by POLIS in October 2013, and aims to train future policy-makers to value and promote evidence-based policies that can most benefit society.